Tip of the week: Dealing with your workforce

Tip of the week 1: So what are you going to do about your workforce? Vanessa Sanders explores some options for independent practitioners.

If, like a lot of independent practitioners, you have been forced to reduce or suspend your workforce – this is usually secretarial cover – then your business may need to find new ways of working. 

This may include considering new ways of engaging. 

Many doctors with a private practice have taken advantage of the availability of grants and some have been paying retainers to secretaries to help them meet living costs. 

And there is nothing wrong with this on a short-term basis. But business must be capable of producing a reward for the person generating the profits and to plan for any difficulties. 

Time should be taken now to review the job specifications of any manual systems in place to see how these could be completed using artificial intelligence, which can be suspended or paid for on an access and use basis. 

Redundancy for employees should also be considered now too, looking at statutory notice periods and holidays accruing so you can plan for extra costs.

How you will restart business and re-introduce work for employees or subcontractors needs to be reviewed for safety.

Deep cleaning 

If you plan to retain a physical working environment, then your business will need to health-check workspace, possibly considering deep cleansing and social distancing at workspaces and in social hubs such as shared kitchen facilities. 

For those who will continue to work from home, health and safety, equipment monitoring, team connectivity and data protection will need to be assessed, plus, of course, the effect on mental health. 

If you have secretaries with caring responsibilities, then home-working may produce new challenges, causing them stresses about performing to expectation. 

There may also be issues arising around isolation, engagement and motivation. So every doctor’s business needs to look critically at how they will return to some kind of normality.  

Devising a specification of tasks, who does them and where, and when and how these are completed should start to build a framework for analysis.  

If you are going to retain staff, you may need to revitalise them and remind them of what you are there to provide.

And be sure to align this to their needs, because, after such a long lockdown period, many will be revisiting why they do what they do and how they do it. 

Vanessa Sanders is a partner with accountancy, finance and tax advisory medical specialists Stanbridge Associates